Archive for Eddie Van Halen

A New Great Metal Album: Greywind- Afterthoughts

Posted in Concerts, Heavy Metal, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on July 5, 2017 by 80smetalman

Apologies for all of those who were expecting to be reading my thoughts on the “Fugazi” album from Marillion. Trust me, that will be coming very soon. What has thrown a metal spanner in the works was my getting and listening to the debut album, “Afterthoughts” by Greywind after seeing them dominate the Avalanche Stage on the Saturday and Download. Now, that I’ve had a couple of listens to it, I am even more impressed and now want to spread the word about this band.

Greywind making their mark at Download

At first listen, one might be tempted to compare Greywind to Paramore and there are similarities in the sound beyond the fact that both are fronted by female lead singers. Only similarities though, as I find Greywind to be much more in your face than what Paramore ever was, no disrespect to that band. There is some powerful forces at work on “Afterthoughts” in between some flashes of prog metal. The best example of this is on the tracks “Circle” and “The Lake.” The latter uses a piano in a very seductive way that lures you into a possible mellow out before belting you ear drums with more guitars. However, those aren’t my favourite tracks on the album. The title track is a definite candidate as well as being a great opener for the album. I also like the track “Desolate” for its start like a ballad before ripping your head off power chords and then going back and forth between the two and “Car Spins” is a very interesting track to say indeed.

One thing I learned after purchasing the album was that Greywind are actually a brother and sister act fronted by guitarist Paul O’Sullivan and singer Stephanie O’Sullivan. The rhythm section get a mention in the Special Thanks part on the label as they should. Mark Chapman and Adam Perry make a very good one here. Guitarist Paul is a very good guitarist which is paradoxical for me. I usually like ones who do blistering solos ala Van Halen, Nugent, Blackmore, Iommi, Page etc. I had to stop there before I got carried away naming all the great axemen. He does play some intricate little riffs throughout the songs that don’t escape your attention.

For me though, it’s the dominating voice of Steph that makes this album for me. In comparison to Paramore, Hayley Williams’ vocals don’t even come close! Steph O’Sullivan can do it all. She can sing soft or belt you with her raw power vocal chords. She did that at Download and she does it here on the album.

Track Listing:

  1. Afterthoughts
  2. Forest Ablaze
  3. Circle
  4. Safe Haven
  5. The Lake
  6. Car Spin
  7. Stitch On My Wings
  8. Desolate
  9. In Autumn
  10. Wander

Stephanie O’Sullivan giving it her all.

Stephanie O’Sullivan- vocals

Paul O’Sullivan- guitars

Mark Chapman- bass

Adam Perry- drums

The whole point of my writing “Rock and Roll Children” and starting 80sMetalman was to get everyone to get out their old albums and listen to them again. I know a lot of you never stopped listening to them. In this case, I’m hoping that you will give a new band a chance and listen to their debut album because I think it’s worth it.

To buy Rock And Roll Children go to: https://www.amazon.com/Rock-Roll-Children-Michael-Lefevre/dp/1609763556/ref=sr_1_8?ie=UTF8&qid=1499276423&sr=8-8&keywords=michael+d+lefevre

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Great Rock Albums of 1984: Weird Al Yankovic- In 3D

Posted in 1980s, Humour, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 6, 2017 by 80smetalman

Michael Jackson did two things in 1984 which rose him up a few points in my estimation, both of which were linked to his top selling song, “Beat It.” First, when accepting a Grammy for the song, he had the decency to include Eddie Van Halen in his list of thank yous. After all, it was Eddie’s guitar solo on the song the reason why metalheads, bought the single. The other act was to allow Weird Al Yankovic to record a parody of “Beat It” called “Eat It.” That would be Weird Al’s best known single and even charted in the UK and it helped his 1984 album, “In 3D” become his biggest album. In fact, he was allowed to use many of the same dancers Michael Jackson used in the “Beat It” video for “Eat It.”

Weird Al Yankovic has always been known for his parodies of other great songs and there are plenty of those on “In 3D.” His second single from the album, “I Lost on Jeopardy” is a parody of the Greg Kihn Band’s 1983 hit, “Jeopardy” as well as making fun of the TV game show of the same name. I do wonder how many people went on game shows and looked stupid on national television. Greg Kihn makes an appearance in the video for this song. “King of Suede” parodies the classic from The Police, “King of Pain” and is about a clothing store owner. “Rocky XIII” is a funny parody of Survivor’s hit from the film “Rocky III” “Eye of the Tiger” about how Rocky Balboa gives up boxing to be delicatessen owner. I love the lyrics: “It’s the rye or the kaiser, it’s the thrill of one bite.” A lesser known track but one of my favourite is “The Brady Bunch,” a parody of the Men Without Hats’s only hit, “Safety Dance.” It is believed that from the lyrics, Weird Al didn’t care too much for the 1970s American sit com his song is named after.

It’s not just famous songs that come under the comic roast of Weird Al. He parodies other subjects as well. The second track, “Midnight Star” takes the rip out of grocery store tabloids. However, some of the headlines he mentions for his tabloid, “Midnight Star” aren’t too far fetched in the real ones. I do remember headlines like, “They’re Keeping Hitler’s Brain Inside a Jar,” “Aliens From Outer Space are Sleeping in My Car” and “The Ghost of Elvis is Living in My Den.” Another of my favourites is “That Boy Could Dance” which is about a nerdy geeky loser who is a great dancer, so all his shortcomings are overlooked. Trust me, the song is much funnier that my attempt to explain it here. Then there is the Bob Marley influenced reggae track, “Buy Me a Condo” which is about a Jamaican boy who wants to come to America and live a middle class existence. Even my least favourite track on the album, Mr Popeil is funny. Probably because I remember all the Popeil adverts for things like the Ginsu Knife and the Pocket Fisherman.

In 1981, there were two singles called “Stars on 45” and “Stars on 45 II.” The former took Beatles’ songs and made a medley out of it. The latter did the same with Beach Boys songs. So what Weird Al did was to take classic rock songs and make a medley out of those but instead, set to polka music. Some great rock classics like “Smoke on the Water” and Jimi Hendrix’s “Hey Joe” get the polka treatment.

When I bought this album and saw the track listing, I thought the closer, “Nature Trail to Hell,” might be a parody of the AC/DC classic, “Highway to Hell.” Instead, it lambastes blood and gore horror films. “Nature Trail to Hell” to quote the song, is about “A homicidal maniac who finds a cub scout troop and hacks up two or three in every scene.” This was particularly relevant at the time because “Friday the 13th Part 4” was in the cinema then. You know, the one advertised as the film where Jason meets his grisly end. Well done by Al, it makes a fantastic closer.

Track Listing:

  1. Eat It
  2. Midnight Star
  3. The Brady Bunch
  4. Buy Me a Condo
  5. I Lost on Jeopardy
  6. Polkas on 45
  7. Mr Popeil
  8. King of Suede
  9. That Boy Could Dance
  10. Rocky XIII
  11. Nature Trail to Hell

Weird Al Yankovic

Weird Al Yankovic- vocals, synthesizer, accordion, piano

Jim West- guitar

Steve Jay- bass, banjo, talking drums

John ‘Bermuda’ Schwartz- drums, percussion

Rick Derringer- guitar, mandolin

Weird Al Yankovic hit the big time 1984 with this album, “In 3D.” I dare anyone to listen to this album and not laugh their heads off at least one song. For me, it’s nearly all of them. Anyone who doesn’t find any part of this album funny, then they have no sense of humour.

Next post: Randy Newman- Trouble in Paradise

To buy Rock and Roll Children, go to http://www.strategicpublishinggroup.com/title/RockAndRollChildren.html

Also available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Froogle and on sale at Foyles Book Shop in London

 

 

 

Great Metal Albums of 1984: Van Halen- 1984

Posted in 1980s, Heavy Metal, Heavy Metal and the 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , on March 12, 2017 by 80smetalman

History is the reason why I am beginning the journey through 1984 with Van Halen’s sixth album, which is also named after this same year. Going back to in time, minutes after the bells rang in 1984 as the new year, MTV started the year by playing the first single from the album, “Jump.” Like many a metalhead at the time, I wasn’t too sure about the large amount of keyboards used in the song. However, I didn’t think the song was bad and Eddie proved he knew his way around a keyboards almost as well as he does his guitar. That’s how the year started for me. I then proceeded to get rather sloppy drunk as you do on the new year.

After “Jump,” things go back to more traditional Van Halen territory, with one exception, which I’ll get to. “Panama” was also released as a single and I definitely like it more than “Jump.” Eddie works his magic with the guitar and David Lee Roth uses his mouth in the only way he knows. I’m not just talking about his singing either. I’ve always liked his talking bit in the middle of “Panama.” “I reached down and put the seat back.” It doesn’t translate well here in print but if you listen to the song, you’ll see what I mean.

“Top Jimmy” and “Drop Dead Legs” are both good songs and I like the little guitar bits done on both songs. However, whenever I hear “Drop Dead Legs,” my mind immediately goes to when I heard the song used in an episode of “Family Guy.” For those who don’t know, it’s the episode where Brian and Stewie travel to a parallel universe and find a world where Meg is hot.

Drop Dead Legs played to this scene

Another good thing about both of those songs is that they lead beautifully to my favourite song on the album, “Hot for Teacher.” Every thing you loved about Van Halen is found on this song. Roth’s little quips between the verses and don’t forget, he can sing some too. Eddie plays the longest solo of all the songs on the album and very well too and of course we can never forget the rhythm section of Michael Anthony and Alex Van Halen. While these two remain tight on the whole album, they seem especially so on “Hot forTeacher.”

After my favourite song comes the other exception. “I’ll Wait” is another keyboard dominated song but I never disliked it. If Van Halen had been making albums in the 1970s, many people would have used this song to label them a progressive rock band. Still, Eddie plays a decent solo on it. “I’ll Wait” leads the way for the album to go out on the good foot. I do like the intro on “Girl Gone Bad” and “House of Pain” is a suitable closer. For me, though I hadn’t listened to “Diver Down” at the time, I still drew the conclusion that “1984” was three steps up from it. Now that I have listened to that album, I will stay say that this one is the better album.

Track Listing:

  1. 1984
  2. Jump
  3. Panama
  4. Top Jimmy
  5. Drop Dead Legs
  6. Hot for Teacher
  7. I’ll Wait
  8. Girl Gone Bad
  9. House of Pain

Van Halen

David Lee Roth- lead vocals

Eddie Van Halen- guitar, keyboards, backing vocals

Michael Anthony- bass, backing vocals

Alex Van Halen- drums, backing vocals

This was how my 1984 began. There aren’t too many better ways to ring in a new year but what I do know now is that Van Halen’s “1984” opened the port hole to all the great music that would come our way in this year.

Next post: U2- Under a Blood Red Sky

To buy Rock and Roll Children, go to http://www.strategicpublishinggroup.com/title/RockAndRollChildren.html

Also available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Froogle and on sale at Foyles Book Shop in London

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Great Rock Albums of 1983: Brian May and Friends- Starfleet Project

Posted in 1980s, Heavy Metal, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 30, 2016 by 80smetalman

220px-Starflet3pq

Here’s another album that would have passed me by hadn’t been for MTV. The single from Queen guitarist Brian May’s album, (yes I know it’s really an EP) “Starfleet Project” was never played on radio, at least not on my local station in New Jersey and this was before it degenerated into a top forty station. I remember the video for “Starfleet.” It looked like something out of “The Thunderbirds” with the puppets and stuff. The science fiction theme to the video added to it. To be honest, I couldn’t have cared less about the video but I loved the song and thus, had to get the EP.

From the video to "Starfleet"

From the video to “Starfleet”

Now you have probably noticed that the album is from Brian May and Friends and boy did Brian choose the right friends to help him record this. He got Eddie Van Halen to accompany him on the guitar and Alan Gratzer from REO Speedwagon fame to do the honours on the drums. Those names right there should tell you that what you are about to hear is totally going to blow you away and they do.

There might only be three songs on the album but they are three memorable ones, plus the fact that the shortest of these three is still over seven minutes made “Starfleet Project” an album in my book back then. Starting with the title track, it is the more commercial of the three. Brian shows that he knows his way around a keyboard a little bit but he still does some great guitar work on the song. I had always suspected from his Queen days that he could sing and he clearly shows it here.

Track two is the more bluesy “Let Me Out.” Here, May and Van Halen really start to go to town with the solos. They are so good that I can never remember what Brian wants to be let out of. However, it’s the third track that takes you to Neptune and beyond. Here we have the two mentioned guitar greats paying tribute to another guitar god, Eric Clapton, with “Blues Breaker.” When that happens you are guaranteed nothing short of guitar heaven. For nearly thirteen minutes, Brian and Eddie go back and forth trading off guitar solos, each one as good as the last. There is a short break in the action for a bit of ivory tinkling from Fred Mandel but things go back to the blistering solos. This song alone makes the entire album a must have.

Track Listing:

  1. Starfleet
  2. Let Me Out
  3. Blues Breaker
Brian May

Brian May

Brian May- guitar, vocals, keyboards

Eddie Van Halen- guitar, backing vocals

Alan Gratzer- drums

Phil Cohen- bass

Freddie Mandel- keyboards

Roger Taylor- backing vocals on “Starfleet”

Queen might have been taking a hiatus in 1983 but Brian May wasn’t. He went well above and beyond and showed his true talents on this album.

Next post: Bob Dylan- Infidels

To buy Rock And Roll Children, go to http://www.80smetalman.wordpress.com/title/RockAndRollChildren.html

Also available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Froogle and on sale at Foyles Book Shop in London

 

 

 

 

 

Great Rock Albums of 1983: Stray Cats- Built For Speed

Posted in 1980s, Music, Rock, television, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 24, 2016 by 80smetalman

220px-Built_For_Speed_cover

Internet didn’t exist back in 1983 and that is going to be my excuse for posting an album that came out in the middle of 1982 in 1983. A quick historical point here, it was the early 1980s when computer technology was becoming accessible to the common masses. I did do an introductory course in computers during my first semester at college in the Autumn of this year but that’s not important here. What is was the fact that back then, I had to rely on record stores, radio, word of mouth and a late night television show called “Video Rock” to learn about new music. Our house didn’t even get MTV until the December of this year! It was the mentioned television show where I first learned about the Stray Cats in the summer of 1983.

It was their 1950s look and sound that first got my attention. At a time where everyone was trying to be different, the Stray Cats actually were. While I wasn’t very impressed with the first single I heard, “Stray Cats Strut,” I did like the second one that reached my ears, “Rock This Town.” Even though, like most people, I got the impression they were in love with the fifties, I thought they were at least trying to be original at the time. Besides, with “Rock This Town,” they proved to me they were good musicians. Brian Setzer was a competent guitarist, (no Van Halen or Nugent but competent) and Slim Jim Phantom and Lee Rocker work very well together as a rhythm section, a point I will certainly expand on when I get to 1985.

The Stray Cats’ album “Built For Speed,” pretty much sounds like the two songs I’ve already mentioned. They are firmly locked in the 1950s rockabilly sound reminiscent of Eddie Cochran or Bill Haley and the Comets, not a bad thing. Each song, with the exception of the slower “Lonely Summer Nights” possesses a catchy sound that draws you in. It might not get you to start fist pumping and banging your head but I did find myself wanting to snap my fingers along with them, which is saying something for someone with no natural rhythm. Apart from “Rock This Town,” the other songs which stand out for me are “Little Miss Prissy,” “Rumble in Brighton” and “Jeanie, Jeanie, Jeanie.” All contain a strong dose of the elements that turned my ear to the Stray Cats in the first place. Not only was it something different at the time, what was different was done very well.

Track Listing:

  1. Rock This Town
  2. Built for Speed
  3. Rev It Up & Go
  4. Stray Cats Strut
  5. Little Miss Prissy
  6. Rumble in Brighton
  7. Runaway Boys
  8. Lonely Summer Nights
  9. Double Talkin’ Baby
  10. You Don’t Believe Me
  11. Jeanie, Jeanie, Jeanie
  12. Baby Blue Eyes
Stray Cats

Stray Cats

Brian Setzer- vocals, guitar

Slim Jim Phantom- drums, percussion, vocals

Lee Rocker- double bass, bass, vocals

Outside of this album, I have little experience of the Stray Cats. For me, their 1950s persona would only last for the one album. Their next album would pretty much escape my notice and in the years following, it would be their post break up projects that I would be more into. Saying all this, however, doesn’t stop “Built For Speed” from being a pretty good album.

Next post: Michael Stanley Band- You Can’t Fight Fashion

To Buy Rock and Roll Children, go to http://www.strategicpublishinggroup.com/title/RockAndRollChildren.html

Also available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Froogle and on sale at Foyles Book Shop in London

 

Great Rock Albums of 1983: Greg Kihn Band- Kihnspiracy

Posted in 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , on February 28, 2016 by 80smetalman

kihnspiracy

1983 was the most commercially successful year for the Greg Kihn Band. They’re best known hit “Jeopardy” went to number two in the singles charts and only “Beat It” by Michael Jackson kept it off the top spot. Maybe they should have gotten Eddie Van Halen to play a guitar solo on that song.

“Jeopardy” opens the 1983 album, “Kihnspiracy” and once the single is done and dusted, that’s when the album really kicks into gear. The very next track, “Fascination” begins with a great luring guitar intro and it is a rocker that really shapes the rest of the album. Likewise with the next track, “Tear Down the City” but only this begins with some cool lead guitar licks. Things go down a similar vein with the next couple of tracks. “You Can’t Love Them All” is a very amusing track and the guitar solos on it are first rate.

Having this on cassette, I can say that side two does eventually slow down. “I Fall to Pieces” isn’t as fast as any of the songs on side one, barring the big single but the hard guitars are strongly felt nonetheless. “Someday” is the song where keyboards are heard the most but it is still a rock song. Lead guitarist, Greg Douglass, who joined the band on the album shows he knows a little about how to play a guitar. “Curious” is the hardest song on the second side and then the album goes out with two slightly more softer songs, although “How Long” does have a cool, almost acoustic intro. Listening to the album after so many years, I think some of these songs would sound really cool if covered by a metal bands. A surprisingly good forgotten album.

Track Listing:

  1. Jeopardy
  2. Fascination
  3. Tear Down the City
  4. Talking to Myself
  5. You Can’t Love Them All
  6. I Fall to Pieces
  7. Someday
  8. Curious
  9. How Long
  10. Love Never Fails
Greg Kihn Band

Greg Kihn Band

Greg Kihn- lead vocals, rhythm guitar

Greg Douglass- lead/slide guitars, vocals

Larry Lynch- drums, vocals

Steve Wright- bass, vocals

Gary Phillips- keyboards

The tragic thing about the Greg Kihn band is that when people think of them and remember 1983, they will always be associated with their biggest single and not for the hard rocking album that “Kihnspiracy” is. That is a tragedy.

Next post: The Tubes- Outside Inside

To buy Rock and Roll Children, go to http://www.strategicpublishinggroup.com/title/RockAndRollChildren.html

Also available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Froogle and on sale at Foyles Book Shop in London

 

Great Metal Albums of 1982: Van Halen- Diver Down

Posted in 1980s, Heavy Metal, Heavy Metal and the 1980s, Music, Rock, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , on September 16, 2015 by 80smetalman

Van_Halen_-_Diver_Down.svg

It was while on liberty in Toulon, France that I saw Van Halen’s fifth album in a record store there. I made a mental note about buying it then one of my marine buddies actually did. After giving “Diver Down” a listen, he proclaimed that the album sucked and had another person corroborate his feelings on it. That was enough to put me off buying it. Furthermore, when returning to the US two months later, hearing the first single, “Pretty Woman” didn’t inspire me with confidence and neither did the follow up single, “Dancing in the Street.” In fact, those songs gave me the impression that Van Halen had given up song writing and were simply getting by covering other’s songs. Then about a year later, I heard “Happy Trails” on a bar’s juke box and thought, “Now I’m definitely not going to buy this.” So, last Sunday night was the first time ever, that I listened to the full album.

Let me say that “Diver Down” doesn’t suck. However, it’s not as good as their previous four albums either. One thing I noticed and I wished I knew back then not to trust a song played on commercial radio, is that the radio version “Dancing in the Street” had much of Eddie’s guitar solo removed and that’s a shame. I think that song has his best solo on the album. While it may not be as good as it’s predecessor’s, there are some glimpses of what made Van Halen great in the early 80s. The first two tracks had me thinking that maybe this album wasn’t going to be as bad as I first imagined. There are three instrumentals on the album, nothing like “Eruption” but “Cathedral” is quite good. “The Full Bug” is a good one towards the end and it could have been the closer but now that I see that “Happy Trails” is at the end, I think that maybe they were trying to go out with a sense of humour so I’ll give them the benefit of the doubt on that one.

As for the band, David Lee Roth’s vocals are just as good and he stamps his personality on the album. Then again, his ego couldn’t be ignored and his limited vocal ability fits in well with the songs. As usual, Eddie has spots where his guitar work shines, it’s just unfortunate that there isn’t a cool solo with every song. Needless to say but the rhythm section of Alex and Michael is as solid as the other albums no faulting that. So, my verdict is that “Diver Down” is not bad. It would be even better if they had not included “Big Bad Bill (Is Sweet William Now.)” A totally unnecessary song in my view.

Track Listing:

  1. Where Have all the Good Times Gone
  2. Hang’ em High
  3.  Cathedral
  4. Secrets
  5. Intruder
  6. Pretty Woman
  7. Dancing in the Street
  8. Little Guitars (instrumental)
  9. Little Guitars
  10. Big Bad Bill (Is Sweet William Now)
  11. The Full Bug
  12. Happy Trails
Van Halen

Van Halen

David Lee Roth- vocals, synthesizer, harmonica, acoustic guitar on The Full Bug

Eddie Van Halen- guitars, backing vocals

Michael Anthony- bass, backing vocals

Alex Van Halen- drums

If I had ignored my buddy thirty three years ago and had bought “Diver Down,” it would have gone into my rotation. I listen to albums in a strict order, don’t ask. I wouldn’t have listened to it once and then forgotten it. However, when I did listen to it, it wouldn’t have been with the same enthusiasm as the first four Van Halen albums.

Next post: Loudness- Devil Soldier

To buy Rock and Roll Children, go to: http://www.strategicpublishinggroup.com/title/RockAndRollChildren.html

Also available on Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Froogle and on sale at Foyles Book Shop in London